CMOs: How Are You Aligning With Sales to Execute the Annual Plan?

3 Sep 20

Two of the most common challenges in cross-functional alignment between sales and marketing present themselves during annual planning. Making sure marketing resources are deployed to match ideal customers from account segmentation and ensuring pipeline expectations are incorporated in setting financial targets will position the organization for success.

No one disputes the importance of Sales and Marketing alignment, especially in today’s uncertain environment. However, the challenge lies in developing a successful interlock process around annual planning that still allows both organizations the agency to complete detailed domain-specific plans.

The primary objective of deploying and aligning sales and marketing organizaitons is to gain consensus and cross-functional alignment. Still, once you have aligned on strategy, the interlock process operationalizes the plan and sets organizations on the path toward success. A high visibility revenue marketing scorecard, like the example below, is a critical tool for maintaining momentum across teams.

There are several key interlock points and operational considerations for a revenue marketing strategy to effectively reflect the actions, guidance, and goals articulated by sales in the annual revenue plan, but we’ll focus on two that are often stumbling blocks even for high performing organizations:

  1. Marketing budget and campaigns deployed to support Account Segmentation.
  2. Clearly defined funnel expectations and distinctive strategies for each stage of the buyer and customer journey.

Marketing Contribution Defined and Budget Set and Deployed Against Sales Account Segmentation

After a lengthy annual planning process, an organization should always have a clear plan of attack to tackle the revenue growth objectives for the coming year. The first step is identifying which segments will receive the most focus or selling effort and which resources and tactics are best suited to activate those customers.

One of the most common questions we receive from marketing teams is: how much of that total revenue number should come from marketing? In most cases, that number will be between 25-30%. However, if there are extenuating circumstances that would accelerate or limit that contribution, the ultimate checkpoint in this process is an agreement with sales leadership. As every dollar in the revenue plan must be accounted for, marketing’s ability to track incoming revenue from lead generation to closed-won opportunity is crucial.

A detailed and collaborative bottoms-up revenue plan allows marketers to deploy budget against detailed account segmentation to expedite contact acquisition and account penetration. It is imperative to focus account marketing activities on ideal customers that are also the priority of the sales organization. Everyone stays on the same page, developing and advancing the same opportunities.

Marketing and Sales Have Defined the Funnel to Have a Top, Middle, and Bottom With Unique Strategies for Each – Buyer/Customer Journey

The annual revenue plan is designed to capture the aspirations of management and expectations on the performance of a business. While the growth number is ultimately the bar against which both the sales and marketing organizations will be measured, it is not sufficient in describing the effort that must be undertaken to achieve the result.

One of the most important ways that the marketing organization and sales strategy teams can help field sellers is by accurately modeling and forecasting funnel conversion. If teams do not have adequate opportunity coverage, even high levels of individual selling performance may fall short of the goal. Most organizations target a coverage ratio between 3 – 5X with the expectation that roughly one-in-four deals will go through. If you find yourself performing at win rates below 20%, there may be opportunities to adjust the lead scoring and grading methodology to keep prospects in early-stage nurture until they are genuinely ready for sales engagement.

If deals are stalling or have stalled in the pipeline, marketing should work with sales to identify priority deals and enact deal acceleration campaigns. An application of high-impact ABM, acceleration campaigns target specific personas inside of an account. By tailoring marketing messaging and tactics around objections or deal roadblocks, these campaigns should either move deals forward or confirm a lower likelihood of the deal advancing. Clear definitions on what should be considered a bottom of the funnel or late-stage opportunity is key to accurate forecasting. A high volume of stalled deals in late-stage or a low in quarter close rate is indicative of inadequate qualification criteria. Sales and Marketing will both perform better if they are focusing time and effort on deals that have a legitimate chance to close.

Formalize Go-To-Market Documentation That Reflects Shared Actions and Aspirations

Documentation is the most effective tool to address both interlock points.  A standardized and mutually agreed upon segmentation cadence is a critical component of annual planning, and it is never too early to start the annual refresh process of your segmentation model. Determining the ideal funnel composition, committing to lead management SLAs, and launching deal acceleration campaigns are powerful tools to further explore the partnership between sales and marketing.

A revenue marketing scorecard should help you ascertain the maturity of your own revenue marketing and revenue operations processes. If you’re gearing up for annual planning, looking to launch a revenue marketing function, or simply looking for best practice benchmark insights of your current operation, click here to contact us and book a virtual workshop to ground your planning in industry best practices.


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